Reilly Opelka has been the dark horse of the Rome Masters 2021. The 23-year old American who is currently ranked World No. 47 was nowhere in the conversation at the start of tournament and is now set to play the biggest match of his career.
Opelka had a difficult 2021 season so far. Coming to Rome with 2-7 record and recovering from Covid-19, not many expected Reilly to show up the way he did. The 6’11” American is yet to drop a set and has fired 77 aces in the tournament and conceded mere 4 double-faults.
Opelka has cruised through to his first Masters semi-finals with straight set victories in all 4 matches at Rome which include his win over the in-form Russian Aslan Karatsev. He defeated Federico Delbonis 7-5, 7-6(2) in 1 hour and 41 minutes which included 18 aces.
The win now sets him up for the first time with the ‘King of Clay’, Rafael Nadal who will be playing at his 12th Rome semi-final and chasing his 10th Italian Open title. Speaking about Nadal, Opelka said, “Rafa Nadal is brutal. It will be a good test against the greatest player of all time.”
“It is probably just a fluke,” says Reilly Opelka on his Italian Open 2021 run
Ever since turning pro in 2015, Reilly Opelka has had a poor track record on the Clay. He has 2 ATP titles to his name, both won on the Hard courts.
Prior to the Italian Open 2021, since 2019, Opelka was 5-9 on Clay. Talking about his run in Rome, he said,” I am surprised. Clay is not really my thing. It is not much of an American thing. It is probably just a fluke, but I’ll run with it.”
With Nadal as his opponent for the semi-final, not many will give Opelka a chance to cause an upset, but he has made it till the semis so one can never be entirely certain about the result of the match.